Skip to main content

University of Northern Colorado, President Kay Norton records

Identifier: RG002-S012

Collection Scope and Contents

Collection includes materials from Kay Norton's presidency, including the 2004-2005 "Charting the Future" transition team plan, university organization charts, faculty senate statements, NCAA compliance reviews, athletic conference materials, speeches, and correspondence. Clippings include articles about Norton's appointment to the presidency, salary and bonus changes, and unrest over treatment of diverse student populations. It also includes scrapbooks containing congraulatory letters, photographs, and event documentation; and awards and plaques.


  • 1995 - 2018


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. User is responsible for all copyright compliance. Please contact the Archives and Special Collections Department for further information.

Biographical History

Kay Norton was born in New Orleans but grew up in Oklahoma City. She earned a Bachelors in English in 1973 from Wellesley College in Massachusetts, then earned her law degree in 1976 from the University of Denver College of Law.

After completing her degree, she worked from 1976-1978 as the assistant county attorney for Weld County. During this time, she met and in 1976 married, Tom Norton and had two daughters, Paige and Whitney. Tom Norton also had a career in the public eye, including representing Greeley in the state legislature, ran for governor in 1998, worked as the director of the Colorado Department of Transportation, and served as the mayor of Greeley from 1999-2017.

From 1979-1982 Norton worked as an attorney in private practice in Greeley. In 1982 she was hired as the staff attorney and associate general counsel for Monfort Incorporated, later ConAgra Red Meats Company, serving in that position until 1989, when she was promoted to vice president of legal and government affairs and general counsel and secretary for the company and worked in that capacity from 1989-1998.

From 1995-1998 she served as the vice chairwoman of the UNC Board of Trustees. Then from 1998-2002 she worked as the vice president of UNC’s University Affairs, and general counsel and secretary to the Board of Trustees. In 2001 she briefly considered a run for the Republican nomination for the 4th Congressional District.

In 2002 Norton became UNC’s first female president, at a time when only one in five presidents in the U.S. was a woman. Though her selection as the sole finalist for the presidency was met with some opposition on campus, she served in the role for sixteen years until 2018, becoming the 4th longest president in UNC’s history. During her first year she steered the institution through reductions in state funding of nearly 50 percent and managed UNC’s transition in 2006 to NCAA Division I athletics, securing an invitation to the Big Sky Conference. She worked with Greeley city leaders to create the University District in 2009 and the Greeley Creative District in 2012. Norton faced some controversies during her tenure, including in 2016 with the UNC Bias Response team regulating free speech on campus, in 2017 with a missing consultant’s performance evaluation report of her presidency, and additionally in 2017 for the controversial stepping down of UNC’s then provost. Over the course of her time as president, Norton oversaw construction of five major student-focused building projects, including the Campus Commons, which was completed in 2019, after her retirement in June of 2018.


15.78 Linear Feet (35 boxes)

Language of Materials



President Kay Norton presided over the University of Northern Colorado from 2002-2018. During that time, President Norton oversaw budgetary and organizational transitions while addressing campus diversity and faculty complaints. Collection includes materials from her presidency, including reports, clippings, speeches, and correspondence.

Collection Arrangement

This collection is organized into 10 series: Series 1. Presidential Search and Selection, 2002. 0.4 linear feet Series 2. Meeting Minutes and Agendas, 2002-2010. 2.8 linear feet Series 3. Communications, 2002-2014. 0.2 linear feet Series 4. Athletics and Big Sky Conference, 2003-2007. 3.2 linear feet Series 5. Charting the Future: A Comprehensive Plan for UNC, 1999-2005. 2.4 linear feet Series 6. Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE), 2001-2005. 1.2 linear feet Series 7. Community Relations and Economic Development, 2003-2008. 1.2 linnear feet Series 8. Accreditation, 1998-2006. 1.6 linear feet Series 9. Awards and Accolades, 2002-2018. 4.98 linear feet Series 10. Clippings, 2002-2017. 0.4 linear feet

Acquisition Information

Eight boxes (accession #17.44) transferred from the Office of the President by Elaine Quam in 2017. Two boxes (accession #18.31) transferred from the Office of the President by Elaine Quam in 2018.

Related Materials

RG007-S004 University of Northern Colorado, Institutional Accreditation collection

Separated Materials

An 8.5 by 11 color photograph of Kay Norton was removed from the collection and transferred to RG021_01_02_12 Norton, Kay 2002-

Processing Information

Processed by Kate Johnson, 2019-2020.

Shirley Soenksen, updated by Lisa Hartman in 2018, and by Kate Johnson in 2020
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Edition statement
Original finding aid created in 2002. Revised and retyped in 2015. Updated to conform to DACS in 2018. New addition added in 2018. Collection reprocessed and major revisions to finding aid completed in August 2020.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Northern Colorado Repository

University Libraries
James A. Michener Library L119
Campus Box 48
Greeley CO 80639